|Mon Jan 27 2014 16:02:25|
Will eBay Follow Bonanza and Etsy in Allowing Digital Downloads?
By: Julia Wilkinson
Bonanza recently announced on its blog that Real-time Digital Downloads are now available on the site. Sellers can now peddle digital products from Bonanza, such as mp3 music, training videos, sewing patterns, PDF ebooks, etc. (Sellers must own the legal rights to distribute the digital product; Bonanza's digital download policy is here. For example, items cannot "include or be of any type of sexually-oriented, adult, or pornographic content.").
Etsy had announced in April 2013 a feature enabling sellers to fulfill digital orders automatically, so sellers can set up a digital item listing once, and Etsy sends buyers an automatic email notification with a link to a page where they can download the file. This helped Etsians such as Yael Falk ("Yoola" on Etsy) sell her popular digital tutorials about her wire jewelry crocheting technique, which her customers had shown interest in learning. According to Etsy, after Yael began to offer the digital tutorials, such as this one, "it was then that she saw her small business really take off."
With another marketplace adding the ability to sell digital downloads, one wonders if eBay will follow suit. Selling such content via download, like ebooks, used to be allowed on eBay, until they banned it in 2008. Their explanation was that sellers were using the "ease of replication" of digitally downloaded products to "list thousands of the same item in an attempt to manipulate the Feedback system." Ebay did allow the selling of digital content via the Classified Ad format, but this was not the same thing and signaled the end of an eBay-based digital-download business for many sellers.
Certainly one can see that if an eBay seller abuses the system and spams it up with thousands of the same digital item, those sellers should be suspended or face other consequences...but with all eBay's back-end technology to identify "bad actor" buyers, wouldn't it seem feasible they could identify the sellers who are the culprits in such scenarios? Must all sellers with digital products be penalized for the actions of some? Not to mention, digital products would be an additional revenue stream for eBay.
If nothing else, one would think that in eBay's attempts to keep up with the Amazon-Jones's (sounds like an exotic British family), they'd want to embrace the ebook format that is now such a familiar part of Amazon's Kindle-based world. Most of the books I buy these days are from my iPad Kindle app.
I can say that as a buyer, I'd like to be able to purchase digital products from eBay, be they e-books, song files, or comic books. And as a seller, I miss being able to sell my ebooks about sourcing products (and other topics) on the site. But it's good to know other parts of the online selling world are embracing this eco-friendly, instant-gratification method of getting electronic goods into customers' hands. Or, rather, onto their laptops.
Do you think eBay will ever bring back downloadable products, as they once allowed? If you are a Bonanza seller, do you plan to try out this new format? And as a consumer, do you like being able to purchase and receive items electronically?